First Practice Management
- Posted Monday June 24, 2019
It’s the ultimate question! We’re all striving to go above and beyond the realms of science by giving 110%, alongside every other workplace cliché you can mention - but sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.
Just what are the key skills, attributes and motivators that make a great PM? To answer that question properly, we at First Practice Management advise breaking it down into two parts – not just what makes a great manager, but also what makes a great practice.
What makes a great manager?
On paper, the majority of any management level roles ask for the following criteria:
- Strategic vision
- Organisational skills
- Strong leadership skills
So what do they translate to for a practice manager?
Strategic vision - You possess foresight, planning and the know-how to make the business more money.
Organisational skills – You make sure the business ticks along from open to close with no issues, annual leave is covered, money is accounted for, minimal complaints from patients and for the most part the staff are happy.
Strong leadership skills - When there’s been a HR incident you have the ability to handle the matter appropriately and resolve accordingly - even if it means you aren’t the most popular person around.
Experience - You’ve got the know-how, so you know the score - and won’t have a breakdown when you come in on a Monday morning to find the phone lines are down, the computers are on fire and two receptionists have called in sick (the other one is on annual leave).
So what makes a great manager?
- Maintaining a hardworking, productive and effective workforce, a team that gets great results.
- Having a good relationship with staff that's based on trust and engagement.
- The level of communication is very good, the manager knows what’s going on, when, where and why. Equally, members of staff know where they stand and are up to date with what’s going on in the practice.
- Supporting their team, wanting them to do well - and having their back.
- Keeping up to date with the latest developments in primary healthcare and technology.
- Maintaining a good balance between a carrot and stick approach; give credit where credit is due and reward accordingly, but discipline and crack the whip when needed.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a two-pronged approach – it involves both the manager and the practice. The question of what makes a good practice is a rather large one…
You have the building itself, which also includes keeping up with all of its maintenance, hygiene and upkeep: electricity and gas bills, window cleaning, interiors cleaned, systems PAT tested, fire safety up to date and clear…
Then you have the GP partners, salaried GPs and on occasion locums. You need to arrange time to discuss practice matter that suits their busy schedules or hold separate meetings in order to speak to all of them.
Let’s not forget the important role played by the other members of staff, receptionists, admin, cleaners …
That’s not to mention the finances, the NHS initiatives, business planning, IT in practice, patients, health and safety – the list goes on.
Let’s stop to catch our breath.
So what makes a great practice?
Of course there’s no magic formula for this - if there was the CQC would probably be out of work. This video from NHS England features tips from two practices that achieved Outstanding in their CQC inspections, and we’ve identified some key points below:
- GP and activist Louise Irvine from Amersham Vale Practice places an emphasis on keeping up with modern technology, meeting regularly with the PPG and maintaining a happy atmosphere - not only with patients, but with staff too.
- Dr O'Reilly of Dr Hickeys Practice in London, one of Pulse Magazine’s Power 50 in 2016, says that access is key - providing different levels of access that suit all patients and ensuring it is always there.
So what we see again is that communication is key - maintaining good communications with patients and staff alike. It’s also really important that patients know how to access the practice on a level or platform that best suits them as an individual.
A great practice provides its patients with a happy customer journey – all the way from initial contact with reception, all the way through to the GP appointment itself and even the exit.
With all of that in mind, here are some top tips from practice managers –
- Have a buddy– The job of practice manager can be very isolated and unless you have the luxury of an assistant, it’s a great idea to “buddy up” with another local practice manager. This will enable you to swap ideas, confirm courses of action you are not sure of and generally have someone to bounce ideas off and share problems with.
- Think strategically– You will be required to produce business plans, strategic plans and other management reports on a regular basis for the partners.
- Delegate– It’s certainly worthwhile delegating some regular tasks, otherwise you can end up changing light bulbs, unblocking sinks and doing all the odd jobs on a regular basis.
- Rotate chairing of the partners meetings– It is hard to chair, lead and minute a meeting at the same time. By rotating the chair, each person will get the chance to take a good look at the goings on of the practice.
- Invest in a good team– Have regular progress development meetings with your team and when the time comes to hire a new member of staff, invest your time and energy into finding the right person. Have a clear picture of the type of person you want to hire, their level of experience, personality style and complimentary values.
- There is no one size fits all for managing- There are plenty of effective managers with varying styles. Don’t be afraid to try something new, just be sure to keep the channels of communication open.
First Practice Management is the UK's premier resource for GP practice managers. Our members can access a comprehensive library of policies and procedures, guidance on CQC compliance, help with HR and employment law matters, and much more. Click here to find out more.